Rollin’ with it

Everyone needs to read this. I always tell my students to stop wishing time away, because it will be gone before you know it. As Rocking My Port Scar says, “enjoy the ride”. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good plan, but I’m teaching myself to mellow out…

A Walk in River’s Edge Park

It is a gorgeous almost-spring day today.  The sun is shining brightly, warming us through our coats. We decided to take a walk to River’s Edge Park with Murphy the Giant Puppy and the boys.  For its size, Columbia Falls boasts a number of nice parks (11, to be exact).  They contain playground equipment, picnic tables, etc…the normal park trappings.

862701_10151341441895886_728078854_nRiver’s Edge Park is special–it is a wide open space of nearly 30 acres and hosts approximately 900 feet of river front.  It is home to the Columbia Falls Community Garden, where I spend a whole lot of quality time during the growing season.889414_10151341449165886_11003922_oThere is a muskrat pond, two vast fields, and many winding trails throughout our park.889431_10151341417550886_1679454516_oIt is our favorite place to walk the dog.862853_10151341384630886_1497974652_nAnd to watch the birds.862749_10151341414350886_87816034_nTo sit and watch the river flow by.

862829_10151341420685886_91685741_n (1)To throw rocks into the water.

803975_10151341422765886_1868998929_nTo ride bikes.


To take the dog swimming.

Just another reason to feel lucky to live in the Flathead Valley.

How To Grow Amazing Tomatoes This Year!

One of my favorite blogs discussing  my favorite thing to grow.

Old World Garden Farms

Without a doubt –  tomatoes are the most important crop we grow in our garden.

In fact, we use our home-grown tomatoes and tomato based products nearly 365 days a year. In the summertime – we eat them right off the vine, in salads, hamburgers, sauces and more. In the fall and winter months, we enjoy the tomato juice, vegetable soup, chili, salsa, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and ketchup that we have canned or frozen from the summer’s bounty.

Here are some valuable hints, tips and tricks we have learned over the years to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes:

1.  The When, How And Where Of Planting Tomatoes:

WHEN TO PLANT: Tomatoes are just about the last thing that get planted in our garden.  Tomatoes love warm soil and warm weather.  If you plant them too early in your growing season, they can really struggle. It’s not just about preventing…

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Jam Without Pectin and Sugar

I love this blog.   Last summer, I blanched at the incredible amount of sugar I was adding to my jam.  Can’t wait to try this!  I need to find out if this works for raspberries as well.

Old World Garden Farms

I have had enough of Winter!  Snow continues to fall almost every day and my Spring Fever is in full go!  In order to get me through those February gloomy days in Ohio, I decided that this week I would dust off my water bath canner and put it into use.  Nothing makes it feel more like summer than hearing those jars “pop” as they cool on the counter top.

So, in my quest to break the winter blues, I decided to buy strawberries from the grocery store and begin my experiment for the perfect strawberry jam.  As most of you know, we are trying to make most of our food from natural ingredients.  We are trying to eliminate as much white flour and white sugar from our diet as we can.  If you have ever made homemade strawberry jam, you know that for about every 2 pints of strawberries…

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In Search of the Perfect Salsa and Tomato Sauce Recipes

My favorite things to grow in the garden are tomatoes.  I grow a lot of tomatoes–probably too many for our short growing season, as I always end up with a nook full of green ones.  They are good, but not nearly as good as the ones that ripen on the vine.

540460_10150988946080886_1943165771_nThis past year, I started 12 Romas, but I wasn’t especially hopeful–the previous year’s starts became leggy and ultimately died a lanky, scrawny death.  Therefore, I bought some plants.  I had 14 total, ranging from grape tomatoes to cherry to Early Girl to Better Boys, and of course 5 Romas.  Lo and behold, due to improved artificial light source placement, my twelve home-started Romas flourished.  I wasn’t going to waste them!  Even though I had used up the planned space in my approximately 18′ x 12′ community garden plot, I found room.  There were Romas peeking out everywhere.  I so hate to waste them. (I feel the same way about carrots–I feel a twinge with every carrot I pull while thinning–such lost potential!)

Anyway, my Romas were looking gorgeous–until the early hard freeze–really early.  It was September 12.  Can you imagine how beautifully red and delicious they would have been if we had been granted just another 2 weeks?

My book nook, knitting nook, and seasonal green tomato nook

My book nook, knitting nook, and seasonal green tomato nook

Nevertheless, I picked all the shiny green ones, put them in my tomato ripening spot, and waited.  Then the sauce and salsa bonanza began.


Both my salsa and my tomato sauce turned out decently this year–way better than the year before, but I’m not satisfied.  I look at recipes, I play around with my own concoctions, and they are all good, but I have yet to create a salsa or tomato sauce that I found truly delectable, or one that I would actually serve/give to someone other than my immediate family.

I will keep searching, and keep combining ingredients, but does anyone out there have a recipe they swear by that they would be willing to share?  I know you can find recipes all over the internet, but that hasn’t worked for me so far.


It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~Lewis Grizzard